British Airways tests hi-tech blankets to increase sleeping experience

Written by FE Online | Mumbai | Updated: Jul 1 2014, 22:29pm hrs
British AirwaysBritish Airways
British Airways has begun testing a hi-tech blanket which changes colour using brainwaves, to ensure it offers customers the best flights sleep in the sky. The happiness blanket, which is woven with fibre optics, uses neuro-sensors to measure a persons brainwaves and changes colour, from red to blue, to show when theyre at their most relaxed and meditative.

The airline hopes monitoring a persons sleep and relaxation patterns during a flight will inform decisions made to improve aspects of the in-flight service; from changing the timing of meals, what food is served and even the types of films shown to make flying and sleeping on British Airways flights even more relaxing.

Last week, a group of volunteers on board the BA189 Dreamliner service from Heathrow to New York, were among the first to try out the hi-tech happiness blankets for themselves and report on their experiences.

Frank van der Post, managing director, brands and customer experience, British Airways, said, This is the first time this technology has been used by any airline to help shape how service is delivered on board an aircraft. Using technology like the British Airways happiness blanket is another way for us to investigate how our customers relaxation and sleep is affected by everything on board, from the amount of light in the cabin, when they eat, to what in-flight entertainment they watch and their position in the seat. We want to ensure that our passengers get the best possible good flights sleep.

Vincent Walsh, professor of human brain research, University College London, said, Sleeping on a plane is a great opportunity to reset your body clock so you arrive at your destination after a long flight, feeling refreshed and rested. The short transatlantic flights west give a great opportunity for naps that will refresh you for that long first evening in New York or LA.

You can never underestimate the importance of a good sleep so Im looking with interest at what the British Airways happiness blanket will reveal about the travellers sleep and relaxation patterns during the course of a flight. Flying presents the body with a unique set of challenges, but getting a proper sleep on a flight isnt rocket science. You need to ensure your brain has as few distractions as possible so that you can ease it into a different time zone,added Walsh.

Lying down, making sure you have as much darkness as possible and covering your eyes from any available light source, by turning off your in-flight entertainment, phone and computer, all go a long way to helping you to sleep and fly well,commente Walsh

Professor Walshs top tips to improve you sleep while flying:

- Have a light pre-flight meal before you board

- If you can, book a seat that lies fully flat or reclines as much as possible

- Take off your shoes, to improve circulation

- Dont drink any alcohol and avoid anything with caffeine, such as tea, coffee or fizzy drinks

- If youre awake, always take the hydration offered

- If you want to sleep, try to not watch any movies, use your tablet computer or mobile phone

- Wear an eye mask and ensure any lights around you are off and the window blind is down

- If you want to relax, put in ear plugs or listen to a specially made relaxation soundtrack, such as specially produced podcasts by British Airways

- Listen to your body. Sleep is not a waste of time

- If sleeping pills help you, only use them at bed time in New York, if youre flying from London to New York. Whereas if youre flying from London to Beijing, take the pills at Beijing bed time, while youre on board the flight

-If you fly often make a habit of these things. Sleep hygiene is a habit.